Tracking may soon go silent on Wolf OR-7

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Soon, OR-7 — dubbed the "lone wolf" — could truly be alone.

Oregon wildlife officials may decide not to replace the animal's GPS tracking collar.

OR-7, also called Journey by environmentalists, was fitted for the tracking collar in 2011. The Herald and News reports the collars only have a three-year life span.

Though the Fish & Wildlife Service hasn't received a signal that the battery is running low, officials may not re-collar the wolf, saying they need to weigh to cost of doing so and the risk to the animal.

OR-7's journey grabbed headlines when the wolf broke away from its pack in Northeast Oregon in 2011 and covered 1,200 miles across the state and into Northern California. When he crossed the border, OR-7 became the first known, free-roaming wolf in California since the 1920s.

Now in 2014, OR-7 seems to have made a home in Southwest Oregon, though FWS doesn't think the wolf has found a mate. If he had, there would be more incentive to re-collar the wolf.

Meanwhile, the Wolf OR-7 Expedition will begin in May — a filmmaker, a wolf ecologist, a storyteller, a conservation adventurer and a Young National Geographic Explorer will retrace OR-7's 1,200-mile trek, capturing it on camera. The group currently has a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the documentary.

The group says it isn't trying to find OR-7, which may not be an option anyway since the collar battery is on its way out.

Recently, another Oregon wolf, OR-17 was shot by a hunter after it crossed the Idaho border.

Despite a program that pays Oregon ranchers for losses, and a rule made permanent this year to allow them to kill the wolves under certain circumstances, there continues to be controversy surrounding Oregon's wolf program.

A recent report showed the wolf population continued to grow in 2013.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the government agency considering the change.